*Each virtual issue collates some of the best writing from our archives, updated with new introductions written by prestigious scholars of black studies, and will be free to read and download for a limited time.*
While violence as protest has been a long-standing tradition of the disenfranchised, the 1960s urban rebellions firmly fixed these actions in the African American tactical toolbox. While an incident of police violence most frequently sparked these violent reactions, activists also registered their discontent with chronic unemployment, discrimination, and second-class citizenship.
Looking back, 1965 Watts, 1980 Miami, 1992 South Central, 2015 Baltimore and countless other cities share much in common: police violence as catalyst; in property violence by rebels who are socially aware but politically ineffective; and a pervasive discourse of equal opportunity coexisting with gross social and economic disparities. Scholars, activists, and the concerned public cannot be complacent, however. The response and utility of uprisings are markedly different in the twenty-first century. The militarization of the police, widespread use of social media, and a quasi-sympathetic and digitally connected public strain our capacity to employ and frame these events in productive ways.
The included articles represent a multitude of African American reflections on urban rebellions. Beginning with the second issue of The Black Scholar, contributors like Revolutionary Action Movement (RAM) founder Max Stanford struggled with the meaning and future of armed militancy via the uprisings. Politicians such as Representative Ron Conyers, Jr. (D-MI) and the first black mayor of a major city, Richard Hatcher, detail the impact of these events on their constituencies. Poet-activist Aaron Ammons and scholar Hortense Spillers contemplate the personal impact of the uprisings through creative writing while other scholars historicize the events, uncover the rise in police brutality and document urban inequities. Finally, scholar-activist Sundiata Cha-Jua details one community’s efforts to combat police brutality in the wake of fifteen-year-old Kiwane Carrington’s murder by local officers in Champaign, Illinois. Collectively and in the wake of current and imminent street struggles, these articles encourage us to revisit the uprisings in order to frame our past and inform our future.
Ashley M. Howard
Loyola University New Orleans
Articles are free to access until 30 April, 2017 and can be accessed here.